Win a trip—along with a chance to increase your stash of junk email

September 5, 2014
The latest contest announcement to hit my in-box

The latest contest announcement to hit my in-box

Travel contests are fun to enter but they come at a cost–more junk email 

My morning routine is probably similar to that of many other travel bloggers: I make a cup of coffee and sit down at my computer to delete spam comments that worm their way through filters on both my blogs, and try to clear out some of the junk email that has accumulated in my email in-box overnight.

Periodically, I take a few minutes to unsubscribe to worthless email lists, many of which I never remember having subscribed to. It’s hard to control the e-mail tiger and new junk mail seems to grow exponentially at my address.

Words of caution from a travel addict

One way to reduce the clutter is to be careful about the travel contests you enter. It can be enticing to dream about the chance of winning a free trip to Bali or a cruise to Antigua for two—but by entering, you are likely to have your name added to a mailing list (make that multiple lists) that you may not want to be on. In fact, the odds of getting junk mail are far, far greater than those of winning a trip.

The latest temptation to hit my in-box came from Travel & Leisure, part of American Express Publishing. The bait was a sweepstakes offer of a “Sweet Escape” to Saint Lucia for two, including a 4-night hotel stay, round-trip airfare, a “bean to bar” tour (not sure what that is but it sounds interesting) and $250 spa certificate.

I understand that companies run contests to generate publicity. They also use them to collect names (and other identifying information) of entrants, required as a condition of entering the contest.

The spam potential for the trip to Saint Lucia, however, seemed particularly onerous. The entry form announced that the T& L was partnering with Real Simple Magazine, Women’s Health, Domino and Design Hotels on this one.

At least there was a warning before you clicked “Enter” that read:

By clicking “Enter,” I agree to receive emails from Domino, Women’s Health and emails and promotions from both Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, and its related publications.

The obscure 3181-word privacy policy (on another page) was a little less straightforward. One excerpt:

With Business Partners who may wish to contact you about products, services, and offers that may interest you, either in conjunction with AEP or by themselves. These Business Partners’ practices are not covered by this privacy policy. (If you do not want us to share your Personal Information with our Business Partners in the future, please click here.);

The bottom line

Will this increased awareness stop me from entering all contests? Probably not. But it alerted me to be a little bit more savvy about the potential tradeoffs.

From time to time, I even promote some travel contests on this blog (knowing that other people are just as addicted to travel). But I try to read the fine print before posting to make sure it isn’t too onerous for me or my readers. I’m glad I did that this time.

Do you enter travel contests? 

  • Reply
    The Gypsynesters
    September 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I always feel like the chances of winning are way to small to be worth the chance of them selling off our email mail info. Maybe I’m just paranoid. 😉

  • Reply
    September 8, 2014 at 10:26 am

    My simple recipe: I have one “private” email account, which I use for important stuff and share the address with only a select few, and a second email account with a free provider, yahoo mail in my case, which I use for all things less important or possibly “spammy”. The advantage with yahoo is that they have a fairly strong spam filter, so many things end up straight away in the “spam” folder. My private email, which I have since 1999, receives maybe 4-5 spam emails a week = easy manageable.

  • Reply
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    September 8, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Aw! They hook you with the lure of “free” and dreams of far-away and exotic places and slowly reel you in! But, like you said, sometimes the exchange of private information for a chance at the big win is too great…

  • Reply
    September 8, 2014 at 11:06 am

    There have been many contests I have been ready to sign up to – and then at the last minute they say that they will now have access to all my FB friends or some such thing so I back off. And some unsubscribing takes time – and sometimes multiple attempts. I do like blogger contests as the odds are good.

  • Reply
    Travel with Kevin and Ruth
    September 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    We have entered a number of contests and don’t seem to get much junk mail either in our own personal emails or through our blog.

    We have entered a couple of contests through Facebook that ask you to have access to your facebook friends and have never had a problem. They do this to help stop illegal voting (not really sure that works though). We have had many friends and fans that have voted for us on one particular contest and none of them received unwanted junk mail or had any problems with hacking or such.

    We are also careful of the ones that we do enter and it’s not many. There are a lot of fake ones out there but to us they are easy to spot, some people don’t take enough time to look carefully at them, especially ones through Facebook.


  • Reply
    September 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    One occasion I enter contest more for the escapism value in the write up and fantasy if only for a few minutes of my travel time 🙂

  • Reply
    September 8, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    The chance of a free trip is hard to resist! I have a ‘junk email address’ I use for things like this. Only problem is I don’t check it often so might not notice even if I won!

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    September 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I’m also suspicious of contests and seem to rarely find out who won. However, I once entered a travel trip contest at a travel fair and actually won! I was totally surprise and enjoyed my trip to Sierra City, California. It was the visitors bureau who sponsored it and the little businesses at trade shows seem trustworthy to deliver the goods. Here’s what I wrote about this trip,

  • Reply
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings
    September 9, 2014 at 5:07 am

    I do tend to look to see just what I’m going to get bombarded with by entering competitions and have in fact filled in details and then decided to not go ahead when I see just what its going to cost me in time and effort as you say – deleting for a few months and finally un-subscribing from newsletters I have zero interest in!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Irene S. Levine
      September 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Sounds like I suffer from the same disorder as you, Linda:-)

  • Reply
    Jackie Smith
    September 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    The odds of me winning a trip are as likely as me winning a Pulitzer for my blog; I avoid the contests at all costs. Great post, Irene.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I’m pretty much where Jackie is- but someone has to win so every once in a while, I enter. The Pulitzer might actually be more likely-lol. Less competition!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Irene S. Levine
      September 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Some of the more appealing ones are simply too hard to resist!

  • Reply
    Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it
    September 9, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I am guilty of dreaming about that someday when I will win a big prize like a trip. Hopefully when it happens, I will still have enough memory left to know where I’m going. This story was very spot on for warning us and still I will dream.

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel)
    September 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I hardly ever enter contests (unless its for a book) but didn’t realize that one could become the recipient of even more emails as a result. Good for you for reading the fine print on that trip to Saint Lucia ….totally not worth it imho 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Irene S. Levine
      September 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Book contests can be a “gateway drug.” 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen Warren
    September 12, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I agree with you – I spend much of my time trying to reduce the amount of email I get so anything that signs me up for more is avoided like the plague (even if it does mean I miss out on the possibility of a trip!)

  • Reply
    September 13, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I did enter one contest and I got so much spam for what seemed like a year that I haven’t entered another one. I do know someone that entered a 2 week first class trip to Australia and won. I need to check some of these opportunities out and just be selective.

  • Reply
    alison @GreenWithRenvy
    September 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

    I can certainly see how you might be tempted by that one Irene, but my in box is so loaded with extra spam, I feel like I can never get on top of it and i’ve stopped giving out my email for just about everything {except blogging-ha} It’s an easy way for businesses to develop lists and makes me crazy. I think you just have to be really selective.

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    September 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I do enter the travel contests from time to time, even if it means more spam mail. I often later unsubscribe. I suspect chances of winning are low, but it is fun to dream.

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